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In compliance with a custom, which is not without its advantages, I purpose, in this place, to lay before the reader some account of the following work, its rise and progress, nature and design. To do so, will, perhaps, be thought the more necessary, as there have been, in this and the preceding century, many publications on the Gospels, both abroad and at home, in some or other of which, it may be
supposed, that all the observations of any consequence, which can be offered here, must have been anticipated, and the subject in a manner exhausted. I am not of opinion that the subject can be so easily exhausted as some may suppose.
I do not even think it possible for the richest imagination to preclude all scope for further remark, or for the greatest acuteness to supersede all future criticism. On the other hand, it must be owned possible, that a man may write copiously on a subject, without adding to the stock of knowledge provided by those who wrote before him, or saying any thing which has not been already as well, or perhaps better, said by others.
How far this is applicable to the present publication, must be submitted to the judicious and intelligent reader. In the mean time, it may be hoped that it will not be judged an unfair attempt at bespeaking his favour, to give him a brief account of the origin and preparation of the work now offered to his examination.
As far back as the year 1750, soon after I had gotten the charge of a country parish, I first formed the design of collecting such useful criticisms on the text of the New Testament, as should either occur to my own observation, or as I should meet with in the course of my reading; particularly, to take notice of such proposed alterations on the manner of translating the words of the original, as appeared not only defensible in themselves, but to yield a beiter meaning, or at least, to express the meaning with more perspicuity or energy. Having, for this purpose, provided a folio paper book, which I divided into pages and columns, corresponding to the pages and columns of the Greek New Testament which I commonly used, I wrote down there, in the proper place, as they occured, such alterations on the translation as, in my judgment, tended to improve it, and could be rationally supported. And having divided the pages in the middle, I allotted the upper part of each for the version, and the lower for scholia, or notes containing the reasons (wherever it appeared necessary to specify reasons) of the changes introduced. In this way I proceeded many years, merely for my own improvement, and that I might